Religion is the only thing that Jesus attacked vehemently. He hated religion. Religion had stolen his nation away. The people of Israel had fallen under the grips of unbiblical teachings. They had followed the Pharisees to a dark place where God wasn’t visible. They had been covered up by the traditions of men. The religious system that was put in place by the Pharisees was based on the idea of man making himself holy.
Jesus said, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your traditions.” We all know that certain traditions are good such as Christmas traditions or family traditions. There are church traditions that are good too like taking communion. Although even something as sacred and Biblical as communion can be reduced to a tradition with no life in it. Where faith is dead and the human spirit is not connected to God.
Jesus called the Pharisees a brood of vipers and whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones. He said they were blind leaders of the blind. Jesus said they would strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. He called them hypocrites. He obviously was not happy with them. It is no wonder they schemed how they might kill him after Lazarus was risen from the dead. I think the people then were primed and ready to get out from under the thumb of the Pharisees and their traditions.
I recently helped a lady who was in a very controlling situation. Her husband had made their former church “the other woman” and had sold out to their teaching. He was advised to leave his wife and two kids and stay with the church, sell out to it and make it his life. It was cultish by nature. It wasn’t a full blown cult but was closer than it should have been. She came to one of our Wednesday night services which started their family on the path to healing. I told her the first thing she would notice is the freedom there. She came and said to me after the service, “So…this is what church is supposed to be like.”
Some churches are so controlling that they strangle the life out of anything they do. It comes in different forms but it is control non the less. Some churches revere their building so much that they chase all the children away and as a result, it becomes a place of cavernous nothingness. Some churches have such a strict behavior standard that they don’t allow people to be human or make mistakes. You do something wrong and your butt is gone.
Some churches have no healing in them. They’ve become court rooms where the gavel falls on anyone who doesn’t line up with their doctrine. Our churches should be hospitals for the hurting, not courtrooms.
If you remember Jesus ministry, he hung out with all the wrong people. He said that “I wasn’t sent to the well, but to the sick.” He hung out with felons and prostitutes. He spent time with tax gatherers and sinners. He was about the people. Everything He did was to restore people. Jesus said in Luke chapter four, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to thecaptives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Jesus didn’t come to set up some kind of religious system that dictated behaviors and put people in bondage. He came to set people free. He hasn’t called us to take people from the worlds form of slavery to a religious form of slavery. He called us to heal the broken hearted.
One area that I work with a lot is marriage. I’ve walked many couples through divorce and stood by their side as their pastor. I don’t condone divorce but if there’s any time you need your pastor it’s during those times. I’ve actually told people that I don’t like what you’re doing but I will pastor you through it. It’s the same way with things like addiction. I don’t like addiction. It is a destroyer of lives but, my job is to pastor the addicted just like I pastor anyone else. If there is any time someone needs the church and their pastor it’s when they are struggling with addiction.
It’s time that we get off our high horse and fulfill what the scripture says. We are called to be like Jesus. Religion sucks because it has no power. My definition of religion is man’s attempt to get to God through their actions. Redemption is God rescuing man. Religion will always lead you to bondage because it is based on the traditions of men. Redemption is based on the power of God to redeem.
What are you wrapped up in? You can be religious whether you go to church or not. We use the church many times as our whipping boy. When we want to vent we whack the church. It isn’t based on church, it is based on human hearts. Where is your heart today? Is it wrapped up in your behavior? Are you saying stuff like, I’m just as good as the next guy? If you are you’re going down the wrong road. Walking with God is relational not religious. No one can behave well enough to win God’s approval. You need the healer of the heart. His name is Jesus.